This is short – but very sweet. Regular readers will recall the California appellate decision that we criticized in our “Hotel California” post back in August. In that case, the court avoided the restrictions that Daimler AG v. Bauman, 134 S. Ct. 746 (2014), had imposed on “general” personal jurisdiction by transferring wholesale the prior “continuous and substantial” rationale to “specific” personal jurisdiction. See Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. v. Superior Court, 175 Cal.Rptr.3d 412 (Cal. App. 2014).
Well, today the California Supreme Court granted review in the case. Here’s a link to the docket entry reflecting the grant. Because the grant of review automatically depublishes the Court of Appeal’s opinion under California procedure, the Court of Appeal’s overreaching opinion is no longer—which is a welcome development, albeit not entirely surprising.
You see, this case was Bauman to a T – the claims were brought against non-resident defendants by non-resident plaintiffs alleging injuries that occurred outside California and involving products designed, manufactured, and sold outside California. In other words, neither the parties nor the particular products consumed by these plaintiffs ever reached California, yet the Court of Appeal held the manufacturer defendants to answer. We viewed it as an end run on Bauman, with the Court of Appeal finding “specific jurisdiction” based on “substantial, continuous economic activity” that sounded an awful lot like the “systematic and continuous” forum contacts that characterized general jurisdiction before Bauman recalibrated the scales.
We have only skimmed the defendant’s petition for review, but they have compelling arguments, including that general and specific jurisdiction are distinct concepts that should be kept within their respective spheres. We agree, and let’s hope the California Supreme Court agrees, too. We like the defendant’s chances. The case made its way to the Court of Appeal in the first place on an order from the Supreme Court to consider and apply Bauman, which the Court of Appeal purported to do, but incorrectly and to the wrong result. This is the second time then that the California Supreme Court has voted to take up the case. Will the Supreme Court reel in the Court of Appeal’s expansion of specific jurisdiction and toe the Bauman line? Again, we hope so, but either way, we can foresee a petition for certiorari to the U.S. Supreme Court coming down the road.